By Naomi Sharang
Abuja – The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Monday, said that until the forth quarter of 2021 or perhaps the first quarter of 2022, the aviation sector would continue to record sharp decline in passengers which was directly proportional to the revenue generated.
This, the minister attributed to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic which had dwindled revenue generation of the industry.
Sirika said this during an interactive session in Abuja with the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning.
The session was on the the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Plan (FSP) of some revenue generating agencies of the government.
Sirika said “The revenues for yesterday is lost. Therefore, we were hugely impacted by the COVID and with this COVID, I think until quarter four of 2021 and perhaps quarter one of 2022, we will continue to see sharp decline in passengers and that is directly proportional to the revenue that we collect because people’s confidence has to be raised.
They have to begin to want to fly again and certain factors that encourages propensity to fly are also being eroded during this period.
“So we are in a difficult and challenging times and we do not have solutions to it even as advanced countries are spending huge amounts of money to support civil aviation businesses.
“The government, because of the challenge of funding has not been able to respond to civil aviation requests and civil aviation funding like other countries have done.”
Sirika while responding to the question by chairman of the committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola whether with the current economic challenges if some of the funds be mopped up to fund the national budget said…
“If government is not able to fund us because of the challenge of income, then government should not take the little that we have.
“Every single agency in civil aviation is so critical that we need to fund it and because we understand the nature of this business that was why we have now introduced the concession of our airports.”
He further noted that the sector had done the outline business case and was going ahead for the procurement to concession the airports.
“The reason is simple and that is because this government, the APC administration, is social-democratic in nature, it does not want to sell national assets.
“It wants to keep the assets with the people but we can concession them and improve them to make them better.
“We are very sure that when we do that we will improve the revenue of the nation,” he said.
Sen. Adeola mandated the minister to furnish the committee with the state of account of BASA between 2017 to 2020 including the expenditure that had occurred in the account within the same period.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the BASA is a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement for aviation development which could be utilised by college of aviation technology, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) among others.(NAN)